One ordinary day in February 2020 at the age of 23 (when life was not impacted by COVID-19!) I was in the shower getting ready for work when I felt a lump in my neck. I got out of the shower and looked in the mirror and could very obviously see that there was a large lump at the base of my neck. It was painless but felt uncomfortable if I pressed it. My first reaction was to ring my mum and have a panic down the phone!

My GP arranged thyroid function blood tests and an urgent ultrasound of my neck. The blood tests all came back normal but unfortunately, due to some delays waiting for my ultrasound, my parents and I decided to see a consultant privately. 

My consultant was able to give me an ultrasound of my thyroid and a diagnosis all in one appointment.  I had a large nodule on the right thyroid lobe, and it was decided that my consultant would try and drain the nodule by performing a Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) procedure. 

Sadly, however, the FNA procedure failed as the nodule turned out to be a colloid cyst* and the contents of the nodule were too thick to be extracted by a needle.  As some nodules go away on their own over time, I decided to just leave it and hoped it would eventually disappear.

COVID-19 then hit and from March 2020 until October 2020 the nodule just grew and grew.  In October 2020 I decided to go back and see my consultant and the nodule was rescanned and I was told unfortunately it had doubled in size and the whole right lobe was now covered by the nodule. The only way to proceed was to have the lobe and the nodule surgically removed.

I had half my thyroid removed and a single lymph node in November 2020 at the age of 24.  I couldn’t believe it when my consultant told me that the tail of my thyroid had been pushed up to by my right ear and the nodule was crushing my windpipe! This would explain why I had been experiencing some swallowing problems. When I was asleep I was also coughing and sometimes finding it harder to breathe. As my surgery was slightly more complicated than originally planned it took a bit longer than usual.

I found the recovery to be hard and I couldn’t get my head around the fact that this had happened to me and I kept thinking why did my thyroid decide to have a meltdown and have to be removed!

I found out I was severely deficient in Vitamin D about 2 weeks after the surgery when I started to experience pins and needles in my hands.  This was due to temporary damage to my parathyroid glands. This was picked up when my GP ordered some blood tests. I was subsequently on prescription strength Vitamin D for three months

Fortunately, the left side of the thyroid has picked up the slack for the right side no longer being there. I am not currently taking any thyroid medication and I have blood tests twice yearly. 

I cannot tell you how many times I have been told by different healthcare professionals ‘You are so young to have gone through this and it’s so strange there are no thyroid problems in your family.’ It DOES NOT matter it can, unfortunately, happen to anyone.

But one year on I am feeling and doing fabulous! I just want people who are going through this to know that it DOES and WILL get better with time.  Take as much time as you need to recover and don’t forget thyroid surgery is classed as MAJOR surgery!

I will never stop telling as many people as possible to check their necks and to go and get their lumps and bumps checked.  The sooner you spot something, the sooner something can be done about it and then the sooner you can start to feel better.

My tip for anyone who is about to have thyroid surgery or who is currently recovering from the surgery – buy a ‘V’ shape pillow, it will make sleeping so much easier!!!!!

BTF comment

*A thyroid colloid cyst is a commonly occurring benign thyroid nodule.

Thyroid nodules and swellings (goitre) are common. They affect more women than men and increase in frequency with age. The overwhelming majority are non-cancerous (benign).  Most nodules are non-functioning, but some can cause thyroid overactivity. The majority of benign thyroid lumps will not require treatment.

For more information, please see our patient resources on thyroid surgery

and thyroid nodules and goitre (swellings)

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